Sunday, June 12, 2022

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Budget Friendly Fall Family Fun

   What family friendly activities come to mind when you think of fall? We enjoy doing things that involve the whole family and won't break the bank. So when I was asked to write a post on this very topic, I jumped at the opportunity.

Most of these activities can be done at home with minimal cost to you. If you would like help tracking your costs, check out the free financial tools available here.

#1. Hayrides  - if you have access to a tractor and wagon like we do, this is a family favorite activity. Invite your friends to ride along and ask them to bring a snack to share.

#2. - Rake the yard and make a huge leaf pile. Take turns jumping in it and burying one another. Our children can spend hours playing with leaves.

#3. - Cider. - Nothing tastes quite as good as freshly squeezed apple cider. We also enjoy it hot with spices.

#4. - Caramel apples. Find a recipe for homemade caramel apples. Get the children involved by having them unwrap the caramels. Roll the candied apples in your favorite toppings.

#5. - Go for a hike and enjoy the beauty of nature as it prepares for winter. We live near a trail that goes through the woods. The children find all kinds of treasures like colored leaves, acorns and berries.

#6. - Pick out mums to set on your porch. One year I let each child pick their favorite colored mum, they were delighted.

#7. - Bonfires are the perfect way to end the day. Invite friends or neighbors over for S'mores and hot chocolate. Sit around the fire and learn to know each other better.

#8. Buy a pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Toast the seeds in the oven and cook the pumpkin. Use the cooked pumpkin to make a fresh pies.

#9. - Make and pull taffy

#10. - Make hot chocolate and serve it with all the toppings; whipped cream, chocolate shavings, cinnamon sticks and or course, cookies.

#11. - Cabela's - If you really need to get out of the house, take the children to see the animals at Cabela's!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FASD Is Permanent

Several times in the recent past I have been asked when Joseph will get better. My goal is to explain how FASD affects him as well as helping people understand that FASD is permanent.

 Joseph's prefrontal cortex has sustained the most damage. This part of the brain is responsible for problem solving, decision making, memory and judgement among many other things. One article aptly refers to this part of the brain as the control panel. 

Joseph needs us to love him, encourage him and protect him, the same things every child needs. However we sometimes need to take our level of protection to a deeper level, we have to protect him from himself. At this point Joseph would not intentionally hurt himself but he might unintentionally. Just the other day I found him with his belt around his neck, he even had it buckled! He was pretending to be a dog and his belt was his collar. I removed the belt and explained why it was dangerous. Since his memory was also affected by alcohol, he promptly forgot what I told him and given the chance might do the same thing tomorrow. That damage will never go away, FASD is permanent but it is not hopeless! 

These are some of the comments we hear from time to time. Sometime's the person is trying to make us feel better, other times they are hoping that he will get better and then there are those who really don't understand. It isn't easy to know when to explain and when to just be quiet and smile. Since September is FASD Awareness Month, I wanted to write at least one post on the topic. When I couldn't come up with any ideas, I decided to forget about it, until I was asked several times in succession, "When will Joseph get better," then I knew I had my topic.

 "By the time he is a teen he will probably catch up to his peers."
No he won't, baring a miracle, that is. For many years to come Joseph will function at half his chronological age. Often when people with FASD reach their mid twenties to thirties they are no longer so far behind their peers but that varies for each person.

"At least he will be able to take care of himself when he is an adult."
    FASD is permanent. Maybe Joseph will be able to care for himself someday, maybe not. It isn't that he wouldn't be able to meet his needs physically, it is more that he wouldn't remember that meat needs to be refrigerated, that you do not invite strangers over for the night or share your whole pay check with a friend only to have to go hungry yourself. 

"Be glad he doesn't have a permanent disability."
  It is permanent. Joseph has what is called organic brain damage. His brain was injured prior to birth. 

"Maybe if you would do x,y,z he would to catch up to his peers faster."
   Supplements, medications and therapy all help those with FASD to reach their greatest potential but nothing will "heal" them.

"He will grow up, just give him time. He matures slower than others, give him more time."
   More time, if only it were that easy! However there is a bit of truth in the "give him more time," approach. Because as I mentioned earlier, when these people their mid twenties they seem to catch up to their peers on some levels.

"I saw how well Joseph interacted with the other children, he is really improving!"
This one is a tough one because on the surface it appears that he is doing better. People with FASD have good days and not so good days. If you happen to see Joseph on one of his good days, you may be inclined to think he is doing better but sadly, the good days don't last.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Enjoying Life

We have been doing more than settling fears and thwarting rages around here, although you might not get that impression from my recent posts. The other week Dean told me I write a lot about the negative things that go down around here. He encouraged me to write about the good times as well.

    When the storms of anger and fear are coming at us nearly non stop it is easy for me to lose sight of joy and forget about the happy times, so I was glad for his reminder.  Here is a post without any of the heavy stuff, just pictures and little tales of family life.

We had a birthday party for these three friends. Lia, Annali and Jeralyn have birthdays within two weeks and we always celebrate together. 

The girls all excited to begin opening gifts!

Lia de-stressing after her birthday party.

Dean smoked pork for the party and we enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches for supper. I love when he does the cooking, makes preparing for company much easier on my part.

Lia and her two turtles had a tea party while I tried to get some housework done. She gets incredibly bored when the others are in school. Every day she asks, "Is this my school day?"

Playing doctor with the bunny she got from her friend Jeralyn. "Mom, her heart beats faster than a humans!"

Lia and her friend Kendra holding Fuzzy and eating cheese curls

Watching dad work.

Dean regraded our back yard


Scheduling, rescheduling, cancelling and confirming appointments... sometimes I threaten to hire a secretary!

Tristan watering the grass

Living in the woods means the children get lots of briers in their feet.

Fresh cinnamon rolls and coffee

The campfire we enjoyed tonight and of course we made S'mores

Hiking on the Horseshoe Trail, one of the children's favorite Sunday afternoon activities. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Safety In The Lions Den

This past Sunday our Sunday School lesson was on Daniel and how he prayed to God even when he knew his life was in danger. As we discussed Daniels life, God put the thought into my head that when we, like Daniel, are in the lions den we may be safer spiritually. In our human flesh we tend to pray harder when we are in a place of danger, be it physically, spiritually, emotionally or otherwise. Prayer is what draws us to God, it strengthens our faith in a way nothing else can.

  This week has found me in the lions den regarding my children, their trauma and the role I have to, no I should say, I am privileged, to play in helping conquer their personal lions. 

I know God is in the details, he had me share the thought that perhaps we are safer spiritually when in the lions den, because he knew what this week would bring. He knew I would need something to hang onto when the lions roared.

Nothing that has happened this week came as a surprise, we knew it was inevitable but we weren't prepared to have everything come to a head at once, at least I wasn't. It doesn't help that I am weaning off of a medication that messes with my central nervous system. I have to wean a little more every 4-6 weeks and every drop leaves me feeling pretty awful.

As I was pondering this, I came to the realization that I can choose to view these difficult times as unfair or I can view them as a blessing. Today I will choose to walk close to God and be blessed, how about you?

 I Choose Joy! A Divine Encounter

Monday, September 19, 2016

Of Kittens And Being Mean To Mom

The conversation Kiana and I had the other evening included Marshmallows kittens. When the girls found the nest of kittens this past summer, I never dreamed how many times I would use them to explain life lessons to my children.

  Kiana was telling me how she fears I will die so sometimes she is mean to me so she won't get as close to me, thus alleviating the pain of loss when/if it happens.

  "Let's pretend Marshmallow couldn't take care of her kittens so she found them a new home. Do you think she would do that because she loves her babies and wants them to be happy?" I asked.

Kiana agreed, so I asked, "But what if one of those kittens was really worried her new mom would die, so she was mean to her new mom, how could we help that kitten?"

Kiana thought a bit then suggested, "We could find it a new home and a new mom."

"That is a possibility," I agreed, "But what if that new mom wasn't nice to the kitten, or what if she didn't know how to help the kitten work through it's big feelings? Then what?"

"It could go back to it's second mom," Kiana suggested.

"It could, but wouldn't it be a lot easier for everyone if the kitten would work on it's relationship with the mom it has instead of looking for other moms?" I asked. "If the kitten moved from one mom to the next and back again, it would have even more big feelings to work through."

"What would you tell Marshmallows kitten if it was making life very hard for it's new mom?"

I was really hoping she would have a profound thought, one which would unlock the door that was keeping her bound by fear but she couldn't come up with anything.

"What would you tell that kitten?" She asked me with a sheepish grin. 

 "I would tell it that Marshmallow, it's mom, thought she had found  a good home for her baby. I would tell that kitten that Marshmallow would want it to love it's new mom and that it would make her sad to hear that her kitten was having so many struggles."

Kiana got teary eyed over that. I always struggle to know how far to push my children and while I don't want to toy with their emotions, if that will help, I will try it!

"I think I know a little girl who is a lot like that kitten," I said quietly.

Kiana nodded, "I should just be nice to you, but it is so hard!!" She cried.

We went on talk about ways to work through her big feelings then I suggested that we color some pictures together, something she loves to do. I paged through the coloring book and found the perfect picture of a kitten. I colored it, tore it out of the book and wrote a message on it. A message reminding Kiana to love her mom and that I love her.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

If You Would Die Now, I Wouldn't Have To Worry About When It Will Happen - Learning To Trust

Our church has a week of revivals every fall, some years we are able to attend most nights and some years like this one, our children's trauma rears it's head and keeps us home.

  Yesterday we were determined to go, come what may. Then the children came home from school..... and two hours later our plans changed. 

   A certain little miss was over the top defiant. This defiance and blatant disobedience has been building up ever since school began and yesterday it boiled over. I know it stems from the fear of abandonment but is there ever a time for the child to face reality or do you just excuse the behavior and blame it on trauma? 

  Joseph was over tired so he went to bed and Dean took Tristan and Lia with him while Kiana and I sat down to tackle the problem at hand. 

   "Can you tell me what is bothering you?" 

Our children usually give a list of superficial issues in an attempt to keep us from getting to the root issue. Talking about big feelings is painful for them so they avoid it whenever possible. The trouble with that method is, you never resolve issues if you bury them and refuse to talk about them.

   Kiana listed the surface things that bother her such as, "I am wish I had as many gifts as Lia" (She just had a birthday), "I am sad about B..." all of which are legitimate big feelings, but not the root issue.

 "I am afraid you will die and sometimes I wish you would die now so I don't have to worry about it happening. If I am mean to you now, it won't hurt so badly when you do die," was what finally came up after 20 minutes of talking. Poor child! I had figured as much but to actually hear her say it was tough.

 Many years ago I had post partum depression which brought on a deep set fear that Dean and Tristan would die. The turning point for me was talking to a woman who's husband had passed away from cancer. She said, "Sandra, it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all."

I tried to impress that fact upon Kiana and we spent quite a bit of time talking about it, but Dean was the one who really helped her understand. After Kiana and I were finished talking she told Dean what we discussed and he had some good thoughts to add to it.

  "Remember how you feel after you have spent the day disobeying and being unkind? You feel like you have ruined your day, right?" Kiana agreed so Dean continued, "But think about the days when you are obedient, you get extra privileges and you are kind to mom and dad, when you go to bed you feel good about yourself, right? If mom were to die and you had spent your time being mean to her how do you think you would feel?"

  "I would feel terrible!"

"That would be an awful feeling," Dean agreed, "But if you had done your best, you would be so glad, right?"

 "I would be glad, but I would still be really sad," Kiana said.

"Yes, but think how it would be to feel bad about what you did and feel sad on top of that, that would be a really big feeling," Dean explained. 

  "So what do you think would give you the biggest feelings, obeying mom or disobeying her?" 

"Disobeying, but it is so hard to make good choices!" Kiana wailed.

"It is hard and you will mess up, we all do," I explained. "Sometimes when you are disobeying, I am kind but sometimes I get angry, right?" Kiana grinned at me because she knew what I had in mind, just that morning I opened my mouth before I got my frustration under control. 

"We all make mistakes but we must try, you haven't been trying  lately and that is getting you into trouble."

"If you try your best and ask Jesus to help you, he will but if you don't try he won't help you. You must do your part even when it is really tough. That is part of growing up!" 

She has been trying to make good choices and her mom has been trying to be kind and patient. It is a work in progress for both of us!!!

 We talked about Marshmallows kittens* and being kind to our new/adoptive mom but I will write another post about that.

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This post has been shared at Thank Goodness It’s Monday at Nourishing Joy.